The liberal arts experience

I would just like to say that I adore going to a liberal arts college.  There is little more exciting [at least for me] than making endless connections among disciplines and having the pieces fall into place. For example: a world civ lecture on Greek philosophers the other day helped me figure out how to finish a paper on Rousseau for my Family Theory class.  A couple of days later, an American Government lecture on Calvinism helped put Rousseau in context even better for me.  I constantly find overlaps with psychology and every other subject.

I also love just learning.  In my Sensation & Perception class, we have been discussing the psychophysiology of the brain as it relates to vision.  I now walk around campus thinking about how the parts of my eyeballs, the optic nerves, and all of the various areas of my brain are constantly working together to make sense of the world.  Our homework assignments for this class are always quite fun as well: for example, last night I got to play with Play-Doh!

Our professors at Erskine are truly an exceptional source of information.  I frequently find myself, on my way to or from class or errands on campus, running into a professor and spending the next 20-60 minutes discussing life, classes, future plans, and almost any other topic you could imagine.  I found my professors in St. Andrews to be quite easily approachable, but not in the unique way that makes Erskine the strong, close-knit community that it is.  My favourite part of studying here (yes: studying can be fun!) is coming across quotes from professors as I review class notes.  My pen is always poised to copy funny comments during class.  I truly love being around sociable intellectuals: they are truly witty.  (I’d like to note that this also applies to so many students here as well.  Academia is wonderful.)

One of my favourite examples of this happened just a few days ago.  Dr. Christie, our acting president and probably the best English teacher I have ever had in my life, gave the address for the formal opening of the college and seminary.  (That’s a lot of words to say that school has officially begun.  Let the work commence!)  I had to laugh when, sitting with the Choraleers in the balcony of Due West ARP church before it started, I saw on the program that the title of his address was “Dude! Alas!”  Only Dr. Christie could tie the word “dude” into Scripture so effectively.  Curious as to how this could be?  Watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eqU7X85GGY&feature=youtu.be.  The Secret Sevens even make their way in to the ceremony.  I much prefer this one to the alarm clocks a few years ago…

I wish I had photos to add to this post, because that’s one of my favourite parts about blogging; alas, I have none.  I promise to make up for it in the next post though!  I should probably go catch up on homework though…being a senior is no easy task.  If you have any recommendations I would be happy to hear them.

Bonclarken & Baby Dinosaurs

Tomorrow is my last day working at Bonclarken for the summer.

If you do not know what Bonclarken is, then you are probably not a member of an ARP church. (Don’t worry, I think about less than 1/3 of the students at Erskine are members!) Bonclarken Conference Center is the conference center for the ARP Denomination located in East Flat Rock, NC. ARP churches and non ARP churches alike often schedule week-long or weekend retreats for relaxation and restoration in the Blue Ridge Mountains; Bonclarken hosts hundreds of groups and churches every year.

Every summer about 30 students from Erskine go up to Bonclarken as members of the summer staff, working full-time as a member of one of the departments: kitchen staff, recreation staff, housekeeping, guest services, or in the front office. Students live in buildings that are a lot like dorms, with bunk beds and roommates. When they are off work they all hang out in the lobby and do a lot of late night random things together like any good group of college students would!

This summer has been my second summer working in the front office at Bonclarken, and I must admit it has been rather fun! Another girl, Amanda, who will also be a senior this year at Erskine, has worked with me in the front office this year. We work hard greeting guests, answering the phone, and organizing mounds of documents but we also like to have a little fun when we are not working quite so hard!

One of my favorite things in the entire world is a baby dinosaur. You may have noticed that there are not too many of those walking around these days (something about a volcano or a meteor, who knows??) so I cannot have one as a pet! 😦 I try to make up for this rather sad fact by pretending that I am a baby dinosaur, and so are all of my friends. My coworkers at Bonclarken have also been rather sympathetic to my cause by giving me gifts of stuffed baby dinosaurs, water baby dinosaurs, and this week a set of plastic baby dinosaurs.

A stuffed Baby Dinosaur from Betty, her name is Desdemona :)

A stuffed Baby Dinosaur from Betty, her name is Desdemona 🙂

Of course, since my plastic baby dinosaurs were given to me by Betty (one of the sweetest people ever who works in the front office), I had to bring them to the office to play with them. This was meant to show her that I really liked her gift: everyone knows that if someone gives you a set of plastic baby dinosaurs you have to let them see you playing with them! DUH! So I brought them to the office and then hid them all over my boss’ office! Good thing Lynn has a sense of humor! When I got back from lunch they were hidden all over my desk for me to find! 🙂 The worst part about this story is everyone found all of the plastic baby dinosaurs in about five minutes, except for me who took twenty-five minutes to find them!

I feel like any workplace can be improved by some baby dinosaurs!

I feel like any workplace can be improved with some baby dinosaurs!

The funniest day was when one of my coworkers, Sheri, gave me some of the baby dinosaurs made of sponges. They were the kind that comes looking like little pills where you stick them in water and watch them grow. It is supposed to take about 4 hours for the baby dinosaurs to grow into big sized dinos that you can play with!

Well, let me tell you, my baby dinosaurs were having some trouble. It took them about an entire week to mature to full size! I put them in see through plastic cups in the center of the office during the week and encouraged all of the senior staff here to check on them as they passed through the office. They were like our little office pets, everyone who walked through the office stopped to give them a peak! And by the end of the week they were fully grown! 🙂

I was very excited, so my boss decided to pull a prank on me! She staged an escape for the baby dinosaurs making it looked they had escaped from their watery cages!! There were little water footprints walking away from the cups that led to the side of the filing cabinet, but after that there were no more clues! I had to track them down and see where she had hidden them! The whole thing was super hilarious and super fun! 🙂

We are happy to be working in the office! :)

We are happy to be working in the office! 🙂

If all of this sounds a little strange to you, if you are thinking that the office staff at Bonclarken sounds a little crazy to you, let me encourage you to direct your accusing thoughts towards the guest services staff. When they were bored this summer they all decided to capture a beetle/cockroach/bug thing and tied it to the leash. They then took turns taking the poor little thing on walks! (Leading me to come to grips with the fact that I do really work with a bunch of weirdos!)

But no one ever claimed that Erskine students are normal!

Good Morning– It’s Tour!

Sarah and I on the bus

I’ve got a confession to make. It takes me an inordinately long amount of time to wake up and get ready in the morning. By college standards, at least, a full hour and fifteen minutes—during which I get ready, have devotions, eat breakfast, and straighten my room before departing—is quite extravagant. I don’t seem to be able to successfully mirror the vast majority of college students who roll out of bed, throw on clothes, and are ready to meet the world with a  smile—or a least a somewhat pleasant-I’m-essentially-awake look—within fifteen to twenty  minutes. My roommate is one such person, and, especially since she highly dislikes waking up, she knows how to squeeze every possible minute of sleep from the morning before jumping out of bed to look chipper and lovely within minutes.

Orchid in the Botanic Garden in D.C.

It takes me, on the other hand, at least an hour to wake up and render myself presentable. And heaven forbid I not have time for breakfast or leave my bed unmade. Until, that is, a morning last week when, for the first time in my college career…my alarm didn’t ring. Ironically enough, that morning happened to be the only day of the year when an entire bus full of people was waiting on me to get ready. Yes, I didn’t wake up the morning of choir tour.

Schadell, Aimee, Hannah and I with our first host family. They welcomed us warmly into their home with ice cream, Oreos, and good conversation, followed by a scrumptious breakfast of eggs, cinnamon rolls, and fruit the next day. Mmm.

You see, each year the Choraleers leave on Thursday morning for tour. Since midterms and classes don’t end until the Friday before Spring Break, this departure time means that the week before tour is a rather hectic time of scurrying to take tests early and write papers due on Thursday and Friday. I stayed up until about 1:30 a.m. –not bad, really, in a setting where all-nighters aren’t uncommon—packing for the trip and completing a paper that was due Friday. Then, I blithely set my alarm for 6:40 p.m. (whoops!) and went to bed.

Stopping for a meal en route

The next morning, I awoke to the sound of my alarm ringing insistently. When, bleary-eyed and blind (praise God for contacts!), I reached to turn it off, I discovered that I was, in fact, receiving an incoming call from my friend Aimee. And it was 8:35 a.m. What?! Frantically recalling the injunction to arrive in the Due West ARP parking lot at 8:00 or 8:15, ready to roll out at 8:30, I half-shouted into the phone in half-awake disbelief: “Aimee, Is it really time to go?!” (I’m devastatingly witty in the mornings.) Aimee calmly told me just to come as quickly as possible and that she would send someone to help carry my luggage.

Within ten minutes, I was walking onto the bus to the good-naturedly joking welcome of friends who had been on the bus for the last thirty minutes or so. I may have looked and felt frazzled, but an in-bus breakfast and en route devotion soon restored me. At any rate, it was quite an exciting start to tour! Though one I don’t hope to soon repeat…

Me, Oblivious?

You know you’re not observant when…

The bus I ride to classes each day

…you ride the bus in the wrong direction for fifteen minutes before it dawns on you that you don’t recognize this part of town and are now on the outskirts of the city. Whoops.

I inadvertently took just such a detour the other day and ended up being forty-five minutes late for one of my two-hour classes that afternoon. I was tempted to be frustrated (and may have indulged in a moment or two of said emotion), but then I just had to laugh.

Guess I should pay attention to my surroundings—even if I’m intently listening to the conversation in Spanish going on next to me.
And I hope the people on the second bus I boarded didn’t think I was having a seizure…it’s just that, once I was again happily on my way to the university and had a moment to pause and think, I had trouble containing my laughter over my little “mishap”.

Of all God’s gifts, laughter is one of my favorites.

The importance of randomness

A written on banana diplayed on a painting in the student center. It doesn't get any more random than that!

A written on banana diplayed on a painting in the student center. It doesn't get any more random than that!

Where do you get your ‘kicks” from? I’m not much a jokester, but I thoroughly enjoy seeing the process and product of other’s being humorous. For example, some ways I get a chuckle or two at Erskine are watching YouTube videos and witnessing upside down objects, random display of written on fruit, off-the-wall decorations, etc. What are the consequences of these random actions? Laughter! What in the heck were these people thinking?! There is just something hilarious about a 15 year-old boy singing songs about being a girl, Keenan Cahill, http://youtu.be/GczjMFfbc0Y and playing harmless jokes on friends and seeing random displays of objects. A couple weeks ago in my senior seminar class, we researched and presented on humor. One of my classmates reported on the different types of humor. Them being: put down, bonding, hate-me and laugh at life humor. We took a quiz to see what kind of humor we exhibit. It’s pretty neat, ch
eck it out! http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200607/how-do-you-use-humor

In the midst of studying, hard times, and being a college student, these random acts have given me an enlightening feeling. Life it much too precious and short to waste being serious all the time 😛